Men's Sports

No. 4 Iowa State bonds over blond hair dye, beats No. 17 Northern Iowa, 27-14, on Sunday at Hilton

Iowa State Cyclones Casey Swiderski takes down Northern Iowa Panthers Cael Rahnavardi during their 149-pound wrestling at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

AMESCasey Swiderski and several of his Iowa State wrestling teammates recently journeyed to the hair care aisle. They scanned the many selections and settled on the cheapest option: An unnatural-looking, but bond-deepening blond dye they all unveiled during the No. 4 Cyclones’ 27-14 dual win Sunday over intra-state rival and No. 17 Northern Iowa before a crowd of 5,615 at Hilton Coliseum. 

 “I think it just shows how tight we are and, it’s OK, whatever,” said Swiderski, who’s ranked  No. 7 nationally at 149 pounds by FloWrestling. “We might look ridiculous. It’s OK. We’re gonna run you out of bounds, or we’re gonna take you down, so whatever.”

 Swiderski joined three teammates in winning by technical fall Sunday against the Panthers. The Cyclones scored bonus points in five of their six victories en route to their fifth straight dual win over their cross-state rival.

 “We just didn’t punch enough,” said Panther head coach Doug Schwab, whose team got an upset win to start the meet when redshirt freshman 125-pounder Trever Anderson beat No. 21 Kysen Terukina, 8-5, in sudden victory. “We needed to punch more. Hell, we got tech-falled four times. I don’t know how the hell you’re gonna win a dual meet that way.”

 Anderson’s gritty win served as a bright spot for UNI — as did No. 13 157-pounder Ryder Downey’s 12-9 triumph over ISU’s No. 9 Cody Chittum. Downey was put on his back early, but battled back and scored three back points of his own in the closing seconds to cement the comeback victory. 

 “You get put to your back in that situation and you get down, and you know what? It’s OK,” Schwab said. “And here’s the thing: Get the next score. Win the next position (and) win the next position. Make it simple. You don’t need to get it back at once.”

 The Cyclones’ 149-pounder Anthony Echemendia adopted a similar approach during the most anticipated matchup of the dual. Echemendia, ranked No. 9 at his weight, scored a takedown with 18 seconds remaining to outlast No. 6 Cael Happel, 9-6. The bout served as a rematch of sorts, as Happel beat Echemendia, 9-3, in December at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

 “All that support you get from your teammates and your coaches, it’s what pushes you with 20 seconds, or 10 seconds left,” Echemendia said. “You have all that stuff in your head and you’re like, ‘Man, I can’t fail in front of these people.’ They’re supporting me and they believe in me, so that’s what I keep in mind in those close matches.”

 Echemendia said Swiderski, in particular, has been in his corner after both intended to fight for the top-spot at 149 before the season. Echemendia decided to cut weight to ensure both could be in the lineup — and it’s paid dividends on both a team and individual basis.

 “I’ve actually never told him, but I respect the hell out of him,” Swiderski said before his hand met Echmendia’s for a heartfelt handshake. “Because now we’re both out here and we’re the one-two punch, and I think it’s only up from here.”

Iowa State also got bonus-point wins from No. 8 ranked 133-pounder Evan Frost, second-ranked 165-pounder David Carr, No. 23 174-pounder MJ Gaitain, and No. 3 heavyweight Yonger Bastida.

 As for the “ridiculous” hair dye? That’s not going down the drain anytime soon, Swiderski said. So expect plenty of reapplications well into March.

 “I think it’s whatever,” he said. “Just let ‘em know. You don’t want to get beat by the blond guy.”